NJ judge gets it: Artie Lange makes progress despite drug test
Artie Lange is an addict and he's going to spend the rest of his life fighting his addiction to heroin. This morning in court, Lange tested positive for cocaine, which could have gotten him thrown into jail. But instead, Judge Nancy Savilli showed some compassion for the comedian by directing Lange's attorney to apply for drug court. Now drug court is no picnic because if you are eligible to be tested randomly and if you fail, you automatically go to jail. Should Lange be denied the drug court program, he will again face a jail sentence.
City Of Angels founder and CEO Kevin Meara, whom Lange referred to as a "Godsend," was also at court today with Thomas Garafalo and spoke up for Lange.
It was at the New Jersey 101.5 studios that I introduced Lange to Meara and after they spoke, Artie announced that he was going into rehab. I spoke with Meara after the court appearance and he explained that even though Artie tested positive for cocaine, there is progress.
"Today if your end game with Artie was abstinence then the mark was missed. But if your end game is progress, which ultimately that is what substance-use recovery is about —progress, then Artie demonstrated that. Since we met, Artie has successfully completed a 28-day treatment program affiliated with City of Angels, met with recovery coaches, got back to work with an agent and tested clean for heroin. With a long road ahead of him, Artie Lange took some positive steps towards long-term recovery."
Meara had praise for Judge Savilli's ruling.
"The amazing thing for today was the evolution of the criminal justice system. We know the system has not caught up with the disease, though I predict that you will begin to see more judges like Judge Nancy Sivilli.
"Judge Sivilli could have just as easy viewed this as black and white. Meaning she could have made life easy on herself, as her actions are certainly being watched, and since a substance was detected Artie should go to jail — that's it, hands washed! However, Judge Sivilli showed extraordinary commitment to making a seismic shift in how criminal justice views substance-use disorders as an illness rather then a moral failing. Without stating it, the judge says, Artie, work with me. And that's what we need more of."
As for those who criticize the judge's ruling, Meara says: "Those that criticize this judge get it all wrong. I know in a previous hearing, even as Judge Sivilli was trying to help him, she commented that Artie 'was getting too old for this,' but we now know that no one is too old for the disease of addiction or, for that matter, heart, kidney or any other disease. But you know, underlying all the legal or medical jargon, the bottom line is that Artie Lange could leave court this afternoon and get hit by a car and die, or he could overdose and die and that is not anything that Judge Sivilli, Artie's lawyer, City of Angels or, for that matter, Artie Lange himself has control of. I believe there is just one above us who has any juice with that!"
The fight continues.